What to expect from beekeeper associations?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Cullman, Alabama
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    17

    Default What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    This is only my second post here, so please forgive me if this question seems silly. Over the past week, I have busted my data limits watching Youtube videos and surfing this forum. I really regret now not thinking about this months ago.

    Today, I spoke just a bit from a person who I think is the local president of the local beekeepers association in my area. He was calling me back after a few misses playing phone tag, and this time I was busy on the tractor and could only speak for a few minutes. He seemed very supportive of getting me to the meetings to provide insight and to answer my questions. He answered the general first timer questions - how much$, how quick to get honey etc. but sadly both of us was short on time and had to end the call.

    Going into the weekend, I don't really want to pester this person with repeated phone calls since the next meeting I think is a month or more away. But what i'm curious about is what can I expect from joining a association? I know this is a general question that will be hard to answer, so just give me a idea on what you get form yours.

    I ran across a video the other day about honey extraction and on the video, the guy mentioned that his club provided all the extraction equipment to it's members. At the time I really didn't think much about the cost associated with extracting honey, but now after a few days of watching videos and surfing the supplier websites, I can see where something like this would be awesome.

    While I would never expect a bee club to provide personal bee hives and other equipment, the shared extraction equipment sounds like a cool idea so long as everyone returned it clean. By chance, is this commonplace in local bee clubs?

    I suppose the last question would be is that I was wondering is it common to have the opportunity to be paired up with a mentor to follow behind and help work some hives? I can't imagine setting out on a hobby like this alone and flying by the seat of your pants hoping your doing things right. That could get costly quick if I had to guess.

    Thanks much,

    Ken

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
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    4,130

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    If you happen to plan to be treatment free and mention that you can expect them to look at you like you have a 3rd eye lol. Other that that, they are great. Ours is pretty laid back and informal and everyone is open for discussion or to allow you to pick their brain. We also have ours open to the public so you can attend without joining . Members have perks like use of club extractor etc.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Humboldt Co., California
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    547

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    All clubs are different. Some offer beekeeping classes while others have monthly programs as well as classes. Some are very well organized and structured while others not so much. For the most part, they are a good way to meet other beekeepers and ask questions, get information, etc. Mentors may be available in an organized manner or they may be available for the asking.

    Do some reading on basic beekeeping to get some ideal what is involved and this might get you going in the right direction. They build on that information.

    Our club usually starts with the first 30 minutes of what we call the New Beekeepers Support Group Part of the meeting -- and actually this is the most interesting part as far as I'm concerned because people ask questions and get answers -- and one question usually leads to another. All good stuff. After the first 30 minutes we usually have a program that lasts up to 1-1/2 hours. We try to make the program timely and interesting -- applicable to the time of the year and what is going on with the bees.

    Occasionally throughout the spring and summer, there are organized visits to someone apiary/bee yard to go through some hives and seem what is going on.


    Probably won't find clubs providing any equipment; however, they may put together group buying opportunities for equipment and bees -- this might get you into some bulk deals and save on shipping for sure.

    Check out a few meetings, let people know you are new and interested in starting and I would bet you will find several folks willing to help you.

    As for equipment, our club also has a couple of extractors that are rented out for $5 - cost covers wear and tear and maintenance as needed.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Guthrie, Oklahoma, USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    Our club starts out pretty cordial, but sort of degrades to all the old geezers arguing over how they do it, methods, which way is best, etc...! Some take it to heart, but it's mostly all in fun.

    I'm a 2nd year bee haver. I was where you were a couple years ago... I realized that I had missed the boat about mid april, but that was fine, gave me plenty of time to do my homework and research, as well has get some coin saved up for woodware, equipment, a couple packages of bees, etc.

    Go to the meetings and see what they are all about. Ask questions, and listen to these old timer's that have been doing this for longer than I've been alive. I always learn something, and I always take some good info away from the meetings.
    I keep track of my hives using http://www.mybeekeeper.com/

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    185

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    Like beekeeping itself, beekeeping associations are local and each is different. I love my bee club (shout out to the Norfolk County Beekeepers Association!) and I wished I'd learned about them, and bee clubs in general, a lot sooner. Membership in most is about$20/year and Bee School is $50-100 (with lots of material available online). Both money very well spent. Here’s what I get –
    • Monthly meetings with really excellent speakers and a chance to ask/hear good questions with detailed answers;
    • Meetings with state and local government officials on beekeeping issues and concerns;
    • Access to equipment like extractors and uncapping stuff;
    • Group buys on woodenware, packages and nucs;
    • Info on other beekeeping events like Mass Bee Field Day, Tour de Hives, and the Topsfield Fair and connections to other beekeeping associations;
    • a mentor and/or group of advisors;
    • And finally, people to commiserate and celebrate with - people who "get it."

    Because of a scheduling conflict, I went to bee school in a neighboring county and that included membership in that association, so now I'm a member in both. It is interesting because, like having two hives, I can compare and contrast. Each one provides something unique and valuable.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Idaho Falls, ID
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    684

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    I am the 1st Officer of the local bee club and it is a lot of fun! We have a monthly meeting, which sometimes is a field trip or a workshop or a swapmeet. We try to get speakers in, but mostly it is someone in the club talking and everyone discussing. Very informal. No dues to join the club, but we are considering changing that since those of us "elected" as officers put out our own money to run the website and other things.

    It is a great place to meet other beekeepers in your area, talk about what works and what doesn't, and, if you are lucky, find some resources. My first meeting a few years ago a guy asked for someone to help him do a cutout the next day. I offered, and it ended up being a brand new swarm (easy) and i took it home because he was hoping to find am established colony and was not interested in starting a fresh colony.
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island
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    29

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    I agree, a year to gather resources and knowledge is a good thing.
    Trying to keep 'em alive

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    34,541

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    Have no expectations and you won't be disappointed.
    Mark Berninghausen

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,515

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    My own club (Southern Adirondack Beekeeepers Assoc.) meets every other month, with a program each time, in addition to an Ask-A-Beek session where questions are welcomed. We have an annual all-day Seminar with nationally-known speakers and every winter members teach beginning classes. We sponsor two youth awards every year to provide a full set-up (bees suit, & boxes) to two teens just getting into beekeeping. We work hard to provide a link between experienced beekeepers willing to mentor new beekeepers (for free). There is a published newsletter and a website. (www.adirondackbees.org) We coordinate with other bee clubs and groups in NY (and nearby southern VT), and with the government regulatory offices (minimal as they are here.) We are a clearinghouse for community bee-issues: swarm calls, possible cut-outs, etc. We provide staffing at county fair bee-display booths. We do have extraction equipment that is available for loan to members. We have a lending library of books and videos that can be borrowed. We almost always have a raffle at the meeting (tickets are free to members) of a piece of equipment, or a gift certificate from a bee supplier, etc. Our dues are $15/year (which works out to $2.50 per regular meeting.)

    All bee clubs are different, but I can't imagine any would object to a prospective new beekeeper attending a few meetings as a guest to see if there was a good fit. I know that we welcome guests.

    Enj.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Central Alabama, Shelby County
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    323

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    Greetings to the gentleman from Kuhlman County. Beekeeper Assocs are like humans. There are a lot of different personalities. The difference is there are sub groups within the larger. Most Assocs provide an educational program at a monthly meeting, a bee school, extraction equipment and a mentor program.

    Mentors have different personalities. Some will say call me if you ever have a question, others will come out to your house. It depends with whom you get paired. I average an hour a day on mine but others spend considerably less time.

    Put yourself in the mentor's shoes. If he only has one student he has more time. Volunteer to go to his house and watch him work his bees and ask questions about what he is doing and why. Save those trips to your house for something special like the first inspection, first split, etc.

    If you are going small/natural cell or TF you will have a rough row to hoe. I wouldn't mention it until I found an ally in the association. If anyone mentions the funny frames you have just tell them you bought them that way on Craigs list.

    Bee Associations usually have low dues. Join and see if you like the people. Ask to be assigned a mentor.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Crivitz, WI
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    477

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    You will get out of a beekeeping association what you put into it! I am very active in our bee club, and our club is very active in our community. It has been very interesting and very enjoyable.
    Every meeting we have someone speak about a topic that is current to the bee year. We have two field days a year, spring and fall. I am working to get a beginning beekeeper class going, and though should be a bit of work, and a lot of fun!
    It is a tall, right handed, world! I am neither!!!!

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    3,794

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    Just on the issues of cost. I will share how I did it. Since I am not going to put a lot of money out of my pocket into something as risky as bees. Turned out to be a good rule by the way. So I gave out of my pocket to get started. $2000. that was bees equipment and all. I still have that in the bees today. After that the bees pay their way. Now $2000 may seem like a lot to some and nothing to others. I could have done it for a lot less depending on how much work I wanted to do to overcome hurdles get by on a shoestring etc. From there the honey paid for honey equipment (Maxant 3100H) soon to be a 3100P. including bottles labels extractor additional tools etc. all of this was paid starting with crush and strain honey collection and then was built up. Likewise Bees pay for bees. Capturing swarms. making my own equipment and either selling swarms nucs hives or even queens. I figure there is now at least $12000 probably more in my bees and equipment. 2000 still out of my pocket. the rest the bees earned. I have been behind this way a few times but not nearly as bad as I expected. it has been a good way to build up equipment as it was needed, barring that original crush and strain episode. Otherwise we had the next hive just as wee needed it. queen rearing equipment just as we needed it. It has also been something of a self managing way to make the next choices. this is bee money what are we doing next with the bees. this is honey money what are we doing next with honey. Of course I could get caught up in there is never enough. Like I don't have the power conversion for the extractor RIGHT NOW!!!! But I will have it before we extract again. The honey to pay for it is in bottles right now Nice new professional looking bottles with labels. That is the other thing. this method got us to a professional look to our product in short order. no more home made hive boxes. no more canning jars to sell honey in. Still what I like best is how it has helped to keep us focused on what to do next. otherwise you can get lost in the variety of choices you could make. Apiary management, Honey extraction and sales management, and any extras like abatement if you get into that. Can and will leave a lot of choices on your plate.
    Everything gets darker, as it goes to where there is less light. Darrel Tank (5PM drawing instructor)

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Cullman, Alabama
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    17

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    Thanks guys for all the responses. I've been reading each one. This forum platform could really use a "like" button. lol

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    lawrence county alabama usa
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    10

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    i live in Moulton 30 min north of you. we have a good club with a lot of knowledgeable members. we have extraction equipment available to members. we meet every other month our website is www.lawrencecobee.wordpress.com give us a look and come for a meeting. we have people from 3 or 4 counties around comming on a regular basis. might as well add Cullman county to the mix.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    West Jordan, UT, USA
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    1,114

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    My sole experience with a beekeepers association meeting was quite disappointing... It was noting more than a thinly veiled sales pitch for an expensive beekeeping class. All my questions were answered with "you'll learn that in class". It left such a bitter taste that I decided making my own mistakes and learning from them was less expensive in the long run, despite the $$$ I spent paying for my mistakes.

    YMMV

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Pendleton County, Kentucky, USA
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    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    I have been a member (and former president) of a local association for four years. Ours charges a small fee ($10 yearly per family) to be a member. Perks of paid membership are FREE use of the club's extractors (a manual and a motorized), along with uncapping tank, hot knife, buckets, etc. All meetings (held monthly) and are open to anyone (paid member or not). There is generally a small business meeting and then an education component, including guest speaker on occasion. We also meet at a local nature center once in the summer and open up a hive and do a hive inspection. We also have a swarm list and mentor group to help new beekeepers. Every year we hold a free beekeeping school for beginners and those who think they are interested in beekeeping. It is completely free and lasts four hours. We discuss the basics (equipment, purchasing bees, pests and diseases, products from the hive, etc).

    I am currently helping my local county extension agent start a local (smaller) county bee club. It will work similarly.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Castle Rock, Colorado, USA
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    1,699

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    I recently attended a meeting at an association I intend to join.

    One thing I DIDN'T expect was for one speaker to suggest "importing Fire Ants to biologically control wax moths"!!! Not only did he suggest it, he said he was already doing it! We're I a neighbor of his, I'd be outraged!

    Wax moths... or fire ants... having lived in SE Texas as the fire ant invasion swept through, I just can't fathom welcoming those little monsters, much less handing them an invitation.

    Other than that, I liked the meeting, the camaraderie, the organization, the sharing, the mentor/mentee matching, and more...
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Willis, Texas
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: What to expect from beekeeper associations?

    Quote Originally Posted by ritan1 View Post
    Like beekeeping itself, beekeeping associations are local and each is different. I love my bee club (shout out to the Norfolk County Beekeepers Association!) and I wished I'd learned about them, and bee clubs in general, a lot sooner. Membership in most is about$20/year and Bee School is $50-100 (with lots of material available online). Both money very well spent. Here’s what I get –
    • Monthly meetings with really excellent speakers and a chance to ask/hear good questions with detailed answers;
    • Meetings with state and local government officials on beekeeping issues and concerns;
    • Access to equipment like extractors and uncapping stuff;
    • Group buys on woodenware, packages and nucs;
    • Info on other beekeeping events like Mass Bee Field Day, Tour de Hives, and the Topsfield Fair and connections to other beekeeping associations;
    • a mentor and/or group of advisors;
    • And finally, people to commiserate and celebrate with - people who "get it."

    Because of a scheduling conflict, I went to bee school in a neighboring county and that included membership in that association, so now I'm a member in both. It is interesting because, like having two hives, I can compare and contrast. Each one provides something unique and valuable.

    THIS is why you need to be a member of the local bee club.
    Zone 8b, 2 hives started April 25th, 2015.

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